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Money matters

If your child is aged 16 or 17 they can study a further education (FE) course at a college. Further education includes any study after secondary education that’s not part of higher education (not taken as part of an undergraduate or graduate degree).

Courses range from basic english and maths to Higher National Diplomas (HNDs). Further education also includes technical level qualifications and applied general qualifications, which replace diplomas and vocational qualifications. All full-time courses for 16 and 17 year olds are free.


Depending on your circumstances and the subject your child’s studying they may qualify for the 16 to 19 bursary fund. They must be:

  • Under 19 at the start of the academic year they want a bursary for.
  • Studying at school or college, or on an unpaid training course.

Vulnerable student bursary

A student could get up to £1,200 if at least one of the following applies:

  • They’re in or recently left local authority care.
  • They get Income Support or Universal Credit in your name.
  • They’re disabled and get both Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), and either Disability Living Allowance (DLA) or Personal Independence Payment (PIP) in their name.

Discretionary bursary

Education and training providers set their own criteria for discretionary bursaries, they might look at family income.

National Scholarship Programme

If you are from a lower income family (less than £25,000 a year) your son or daughter may get help through the National Scholarship Programme. There are some changes to the NSP for 2014-15 that you should be aware of. Each university will decide what support they’ll offer so you’ll need to check to see what your chosen university is offering and whether you’re eligible.

Claiming a bursary

Schools, colleges and training providers are responsible for awarding bursaries, how much is awarded, when it will be paid and what conditions the student needs to meet to qualify.

To make a claim speak to the school, college or training provider’s Student Support Services and ask about their process.

Other finance schemes

Discretionary Learner Support

If they’re aged 19 or over, on a further education course and facing financial hardship, your child could get Discretionary Learner Support (DLS). They apply to their learning provider and how much they get depends on their circumstances.

Residential Support Scheme

They may be able to get help with the cost of term-time accommodation if they need to study away from home for a Level 2 or Level 3 qualification (equivalent to GCSEs and A levels).

They may qualify if this is the first time they have studied for a Level 2 or Level 3 qualification and their course is too far away for them to travel to daily. How much they get depends on your household income.

Young parents can get help with childcare costs while they study. Your child must be aged under 20 at the start of their course. The scheme is available for publicly-funded courses in England. This includes courses in:

  • schools
  • 6th forms in schools
  • 6th form colleges

To qualify, the childcare provider must be registered with Ofsted. They can be a:

  • childminder
  • preschool playgroup
  • day nursery
  • out of school club

How do I apply?

They need to fill in an application form to apply, and then make a new application every year that they would like the funding.

Your child could get a Dance and Drama Award (DaDA) to help with fees and living costs at one of 19 private dance and drama schools. Apply direct to the dance and drama school they want to go to. Tell them you want to apply for a DaDA. Your child must be 16 or over and show talent and a likelihood to succeed in the industry.

The amount they get depends on:

  • your household income
  • where you live
  • where your son/daughter will study

Further information can be found on the Gov.UK website.

Student Finance England

Course fees for a degree can be up to £9,000 per year of study. The fees will vary depending on the course and where your son or daughter wants to study. You’ll also need to consider whether you will need to pay fees for accommodation and general living costs.

Enrolling on a degree courses means that your son or daughter could apply for financial support from Student Finance England. Depending on income and eligibility, this could mean that they are entitled to a course fee loan and/or support with the cost of living (maintenance). If they are eligible you wouldn’t need to pay course fees upfront. Your son or daughter would only have to start paying back the loan once they were earning more than £21,000 a year.

Find out more about student finance and loans from Student Finance England or get your son or daughter to visit the Student Room. They can also use a Student Calculator to check their eligibility for loans and grants and to work out their possible income against their predicted spending.

Family Action

The Family Action group distributes grants to people over the age of 14, looking to unlock their educational potential by participating in further education.

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